The background – When a parent is in dilemma about selecting a CBSE or ICSE school, a common question that pops up is why CBSE has more takers than ICSE. To answer this question, lets first look at history of the two institutions. The ICSE council was registered in 1967 and was listed in 1973 under the Delhi School Education Act of 1973, as a body that conducts public examinations. On the other hand, CBSE has gone through multiple territorial changes since 1952 and finally took a national position in year 1962. ICSE has around 2400 schools affiliated to it while CBSE has more than 21000 schools that include 1000 plus Kendriya Vidyalayas, around 2500 Government/Aided Schools, more than 14000 Independent Schools, around 600 Jawahar Novodaya Vidyalayas and few Central Tibetan Schools. Clearly, CBSE has more years of experience and more number of schools affiliated to it. This clearly means that at least schools prefer affiliating to CBSE more than ICSE.
Schools perspective – However, situation was not always the same and was not as tilted towards CBSE. When ICSE board came up, before 1970s, there were hundred of ICSE schools in Andhra Pradesh for example. However, they reduced to merely 35 by 2015. The reason attributed to this shift was the beginning of competitive exams in India. The ICSE board was considered quite English literature/language focused and hence was thought to be unadvisable for competitive examinations. Although not completely and not always true, parents grew obsessed with this view and started preferring CBSE over ICSE thereby leading to mushrooming of CBSE schools.
Students perspective – There are students who did have a tryst with both the boards. The feedback is mixed. Few believe that ICSE boards are way harder than CBSE till class X but thereafter both boards have nearly same amount of syllabus. The marking in both boards have also become lenient over the years and students score well in both.
Our conclusion – ICSE board is believed to be harder than CBSE till class X since it focuses on English both as language and literature. The syllabus of some other subjects may also be more than CBSE. Hence, it prepares and imparts more knowledge than what a class X CBSE student will be taught. With both boards competing against each other towards leniency of marking, students score equally well in both boards and hence both are good for university admissions. For competitive exams based on school subjects, both boards have their plus and minus. CBSE gives time to prepare specifically for competitive exams while ICSE covers some advanced concepts for these competitive exams already. Having said that, if someone asks me how much harder is ICSE is over CBSE, I would say that till class X, it is perhaps 10% more syllabus than CBSE. Thereafter, it evens out.
Read further comparison between CBSE, ICSE, IGCSE and IB
Last updated: May 20, 2021 at 1:10 am